Sep 7, 2010 7:15pm
Jerry and Keith Moon in NYC...
This is a hilarious story from Rock Scully's book "Living With the Dead"
We're staying at the Navarro on Central Park south in New York, a hotel the Who have been trying to sell us for years. They own a third of it or something. We've got adjoining rooms. Jerry and I are spending a quiet evening in the global village, working on our hobbies: recreational drugs and watching TV. The eternal, endlessly shape-shifting box. Its nature changes with each new drug. With grass you want to turn the sound off and play records, on acid everything that happens on the set is uncannily calibrated to each fleeting thought. You are TV. With coke, you talk over it, talk back at it, shoot it dead if need be-it's alive!
"Did you hear that?" I ask.
"Yeah man, what was that?"
It's...something...outside the window!
The thing about blow is it breeds paranoia. It's contagious! There are enough demons flapping through our bains as it is without some alien entity crouching on our windowsill forty stories up, tap-tap-taping on my casement window. I don't want to engage Garcia's alarm system over nothing, but this is, let's face it, a critical situation. It's one of those dread occasions where you need another human being to tell you you're imagining the whole thing. I know from bitter experience Jerry isn't that guy, nevertheless...
Knap! Knap! Knap!
"Jesus! There it is again."
"Turn the set off, man, so we can hear the damn thing." Good! Jerry's being very sensible about the whole thing.
"It's probably a pigeon," I suggest. "It could be anything."
"It could be anything?"
BANG! BANG! BANG!
"Holy shit! It must be fuckin' huge!"
"Jerry, we're on the forty-first floor!"
Jerry's not taking any chances. He assumes "the shield position" from the high school manual What to Do in Case of a Nuclear Attack, crouching down on his knees under the writing desk.
"You go check it out Rock."
Oh, thanks. And if you see my head getting chewed off by a fucking gigantic mutant mantis be sure to call the front desk and inform them so it doesn't disturb the other guests.
What, me worry? It's a game. It's something the Imp of blow has cooked up in our overscorched brains. It's just going to be some bird with a broken wing or something. And when it sees me-a bug-eyed teeth-grinding human-it's going to be scared out of its wits.
I pull back the curtains with a dramatic flourish. And, there, outside the window I see-fearsome popping eyes! the demented predatory grin! -the fiend itself!
That Clockwork Orange orb of a face could only belong to-Keith Moon! The demon drummer of the Who is blithely grimacing back at me from his precarious perch. I pull open the window and let him in.
"Keith, what the hell are you doing out there?"
In a barely recognizable imitation of the Bard he drones: "May I pleeeeeease crawl in your window, baby?"
Because he's so paranoid from doing blow in his room alone all night he's double-bolted his door, forgotten that he's done it, and is too stoned to figure out how to open it. Calling the front desk in this state might arouse unwanted questions and quite logically he decides to inch along the ledge between out connecting rooms.
"Come in and do a few lines, maan," Jerry says sweepingly. The euphoria of relief and surprise in the room is intoxicating.
"Don't mind if I do."
"Wot abowt goin' out an' creatin' some, havoc! eh, lads?" The eyes of Moon are like asteroids of Saturn whirring in their own lunar orbits. They're independant entities, a sort of coke-crazed pair of quasi-human agents-an amped up Tweedledee and Tweedledum-and both of them want to go to Studio 54, now!
Jerry generally never wants to go out once we get to New York. He likes to vegitate in his room with the big color TV until showtime. New York is way too much input, it's abrasive and intimidating to Californians-especially Californians as high as we are. But Moon is fearless. He's a force of nature, he's unstoppable! Jerry loves Moon. He has an abiding affection for maniacs, Keruakian roman candles: "The mad ones, the ones who are mad to live...exploding like spiders across the stars," etc.
In the company of Moon, all apprehensions about New York vanish. Hey don't mess with us, we're with the Tasmanian Devil!"
Garcia's suddenly very animated: "Oh, we're going out? Cool! I'll just go get my coat." He leaves.
Moon's wheels are spinning. He wants to go out to that discotheque, Studio 54, but he's forgotten his stash. And he must have the stuff. It's his familar. So he goes out in the hall and uses his key in the door but naturally it won't unlock. All that coke has frozen his memory cells.
Out in the antiseptic hallway with the carpet with the matching deep-pile burgundy borzoi pattern, the Mad Hatter of the Who ponders to himself' "How could this have happened? Hmmmmm, let's see. I'm out of the room but yet it's bolted, you say, from the inside?"
Chief Inspector Moon voice: "One o' them locked-room mysteries is wot it is." He comes back into my room.
"You climbed along the ledge, remember?" I remind him.
"Fuck yeah! But wot to do, eh? I'm not goin' owt on that bloody precipice again, I can tell you that!"
It's a quandry all right. While I make a few phone calls, Mood disappears into the bedroom. More tapping! This time it sounds like a giant rat caught in the walls and clawing its way out, which, when I go in there to see what's going on, turns out to be pretty close.
There he is, the giant rat of Sumatra, busily gnawing away-urr-urrr-urrr-urrrr-in my clothes closet. There's dust all over my clothing, lumps of the wall all over the floor.
"What the hell you doin' in there?"
"My room's right next door, mate."
"You're goin' through the wall?"
"Wot uvver alternatives do you recommend?"
"Jesus, Moon, it's only drugs!"
"You should hear yourself, Scully."
"Can't we get more of whatever it is, man? I mean it's not ibogaine, is it? Or extract of Madagascar tree toad venom?"
He doesn't hear me. He's a man possessed. He's stripping the plaster off the wall with a buck knife. He's got that mad Jack-Nicholson-with-the-ax look-here's Johnny! He's a miracle of enthusiasm. Now he's got the plaster off and he's down to the lathe and bricks.
"Won't be a moment," he says and splits. Am I being too optimistic to think he's abandoned the project? Gone to raid Pete Townsend's stash, most probably? But no, it's too good to be true. He goes downstairs to the basement and comes back up with a chisel and a hammer. He's taking the bricks out one by one.
"I own a third of this hotel, y'know,' he says by way of explanation. He's going, "God, I'm gonna get in so much trouble for this!" But he doesn't care, he's pounding away at it! He's determined to get back into his room and get his drugs.
Jerry comes back and goes in to take a look. He's standing there looking at this devastation. "What? Jesus! Moon's turned into some kind of human mole!'
Finally the hole is big enough. Moon wriggles through it, gets his stash and crawls back through the hole, once again forgetting to open his door. He's now covered with dust from head to toe, like a ghoul recently exumed from from a graveyard.